Kea Street Specialist School principal Sherie Collins says they are very grateful for the money received from The Warehouse Rotorua's Bags for Good campaign.

The school was one of three local community groups to be given part of $5176.63 raised by the sale of plastic bags at the store over the past six months. The other two groups were Plunket Playgroup Rotorua and Mamaku School.

Sherie says as a specialist school, any extra funding is gladly received.

"On behalf of the children we are very grateful for what The Warehouse does for the community."

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She says the money will go towards physical education equipment, musical instruments and costumes for the girls' kapa haka group.

A cheque was presented last week to the three groups in store.

Meg Russell, The Warehouse Rotorua's in store co-ordinator for community, says the presentation went well.

"We had four students from Kea Street Specialist School attend who were very excited. The principal and four teachers attended too."

She says a representative attended from Plunket Playgroup Rotorua however no one was from Mamaku School Rotorua was able to attend.

"Hopefully we will be able to get to meet up [with Mamaku School] and be able to have a celebration between us and them."

The nationwide Bags for Good programme has been in place since 2009 and aims to reduce the number of plastic bags issued.

The Warehouse Rotorua store manager Sally Rison says every customer who makes a purchase receives a token which they can deposit into their chosen community group's section of the token unit in store.

"At the end of the period that's divided up among the funds taking into consideration the tokens."

The initiative means of the total amount Kea Street Specialist School will receive $2075.93, Plunket Playgroup Rotorua will get $1752.73 and Mamaku School will receive $1347.97. Angelina Veysi, a home and school committee member from Mamaku School, says the money is an absolute bonus and is extremely appreciated.

"It helps us achieve things that are out of our realm. It's an awesome community project."

She says it was the first time the school had put forward an entry for the campaign and
the money is going towards a cover for their new turf court.

"Thank you to the community for putting tokens in on our behalf and supporting us."

Representatives from Plunket Playgroup Rotorua were unable to be reached for comment.

Meg says The Warehouse Rotorua chooses three community groups twice a year, which runs from February until the end of July, and from August until the end of January.

"Groups register themselves, or nominate themselves, online and once they've done that we get a choice of the others who have registered."

She says there are certain conditions nominees must meet.

"They need to fall into groups that will support children, young people and their families which is the Warehouse's core fundraising goal."

They said the number of groups entering varies each time. Sally says after a selection period at the support office the details are send to her.

"Thenwhat we tend to do if we have more groups than the spaces available we take that to the [Warehouse Rotorua store] team and they have a vote onwho they want to support within our community this round.

"The exciting thing about this is we are one of the potential top stores with the highest
amount of amount given to the community. So out of 94 stores we're ranked in the top five."

She says customers get behind the initiative once they knowwhat's going on knowing the money is going to the community instead to the store.

"It does make a difference."

Half of the money raised goes towards the Bags for Good campaign and the other half goes towards 'small product donations' so we can do things such as donating plants to a kindergarten because they are putting on a spring fair this weekend says Meg.

"The money has come from the kind donations from our customers."

Sally says each of the groups chosen do amazing work in the local community.

"It's really exciting for the team as well as the community. We hope the money raised will help to make a difference to the lives of those they help and support."

Community groups are able to register for those to be selected for February. Apply online at twg.co.nz/customer-choice application\

- Georgina Harris is the editor of the Rotorua Weekender